Beaujolais Nouveau

Today is the third Thursday in November, and for those of you who follow wine, you know that this is the day Beaujolais Nouveau is released. So it begs the question...what is this Nouveau stuff?

Let's start with where it comes from...France. But more specifically, the Burgundy Region. "But Jim, Burgundy makes super expensive, wonderful Pinot Noir based wines (and Chardonnays), but this doesn't taste anything like those." There is another red grape in Burgundy, and that is Gamay (grown only in the southern section of the  Burgundy region, in, of all places Beaujolais). The Beaujolais region is made up of  ten main villages: St Amour, Julienas, Chenas, Moulin-a-vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Regnie, Brouilly, and Cote de Brouilly.

So what is so special about Beaujolais Nouveau? Well, it is the first wine released from the most recent vintage. That is, the wine is only about six to nine weeks off the vine. It doesn't go through the "normal" fermentation, but goes through a process known as carbonic maceration. This is a process in which the grapes are not crushed, but are kept in whole bunches, in an anaerobic atmosphere. The weight of the grapes crush the lower grapes, and natural fermentation begins, creating carbon dioxide. This permeates the uncrushed grapes, and causes them to ferment from within. This process leads to simple, vibrant, fruity/grapey wines. they are meant to be drunk young, as a celebration of the harvest.

I find that these types of wines work well with cheese (particularly goat cheese) meat, stews, charcuterie, salmon, turkey (Thanksgiving idea).

I went looking for the new releases today, and was disappointed to find that only one label was in all three wine stores I went to (and probably in your local grocery store)...George Debouf. When I tried this label last year, I found it overly "cherry cola and bananas" tasting, so decided to stay away this year. I'm holding out for the Drouhin release. I've always liked their wines.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on Beaujolais Nouveau...


  1. How much Beaujolais Nouveau makes it to the States, and when would we expect to see it in stores?

  2. It was officially released yesterday, but I was only able to find it in limited spots. There is somewhere between 35 to 65 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau produced every year, of which about 1/2 is exported. Of the export market, the United States is 2nd behind Japan.